Thursday, 5 March 2015




In adopting a constructivist attitude, where the act of learning-through-doing is key, maker culture blends the experimental approach of DIY crafting with technology. Through digital fabrication, interactive design, physical computing, adaptive gaming, and more, this creative cultural movement is making waves in both the academic and museum worlds! Science centres and children museums, in particular, have embraced these hands-on activities through cutting-edge interactive displays. Gaming in history museums and academic hackathons are now a popular method for education and engagement. Some of the most innovative maker initiatives in Canada are coming out of our very own Semaphore Critical Making Lab, at the University of Toronto's iSchool, as well as the Maker Lab in the University of Victoria's Humanities Department. Today, I offer you a small selection of cool and cutting-edge maker projects (not in any particular order)

Professor Matt Ratto and PhD Candidate ginger coons are leading a team of researchers in the development of 3D-printed limbs for children in Uganda. They were even featured on the CBC!

3D-Printed Limbs at the iSchool's Semaphore Lab, Photo by Semaphore Lab

2. FEMBOX: By Nina Belojevic and Theresa Slater for Integrate Arts Festival in Victoria, BC

"Through console-like play the piece combines multiple elements: the clearly material — physical controllers, glimpses into the “black box” showing wires and component parts — with the seemingly ephemeral — lights, projections, invisible processes; the electronic with the biological; the technological with the bodily" (Fembox Webpage 2015).

This iPad game was created using the intricate "Strawberry Thief" pattern designed by Arts and Crafts artist, William Morris. The point of the game is for the Strawberry Thief bird to collect strawberries in order to transform a blank piece of paper into the vibrant floral design. What a fun way to engage with museums and art history!

This static installation of mesmerizing 3D-printed objects, created by 40 girls between the ages of 8-13, considers how objects make a space. The non-linear narrative encouraged young makers to "interpret a space by means of reinventing objects, not destroying them" (Ladies Learning Code Webpage 2015). 

Girls Learning Code, a vital part of the Ladies Learning Code National program, hosts a series of hands-on workshops that promote technological experimentation amongst young girls. 

Envision: 3D Printed Art, Photo by Jaime Clifton-Ross
Envision: 3D Printed Art, Photo by Jaime Clifton-Ross

This project aims to physically preserve old technologies that have gradually grown obsolete or inaccessible. Through replicas of interactive and hands-on technologies packaged in distinct "cultural kits", this project explores the history of media technology through digital fabrication and physical computing. Users are encouraged to reflect on the physicality of technology and consider how this is embedded in cultural history.  

Sketch of Kit for Cultural History, by Nina Belojevic
Boxed Anthologies: Kits for Culture by Shaun Macpherson and Nina Belojevic
Boxed Anthologies: Kits for Culture by Shaun Macpherson and Nina Belojevic
Now that you've been inspired by these amazingly talented makers, go create something of your own and please share your results!


  1. I like that you combined the digital with the material in your list of examples of maker cultures- I will admit that I am truly fascinated by Boxed Anthologies. Its aesthetics is such a great combination of curatorial practice and interpretation through a nod to the cabinet of curiosity, but full of relatable and recognizable artefacts.

  2. The Boxes remind me of Marcel Duchamp's Boxes in a Suitcase (Boite-en-valise) which are like little miniature galleries with tiny models of his work.